Mammalian Genomics

All is not lost within the genome

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Science  22 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6468, pp. 967-968
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6468.967-e

The evolutionary loss of genes among species can occur if a gene is no longer needed. Paradoxically, many diseases in humans have been attributed to a loss of functional genes. Sharma and Hiller studied the genomes of a collection of 62 nonhuman mammals. They found that up to 22% of genes appear to have been lost in at least one species. Some gene losses may result in traits that associate with disease in humans—such as a lack of tooth enamel or impaired vision—but are not deleterious to the species concerned because of their specific lifestyles. Many of the missing genes affect olfaction and the immune system and do not affect the viability of human cells or mice when experimentally inactivated.

NAR Genom. Bioinform. 10.1093/nargab/lqz012 (2019).

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